Stephen Battaglio


The Biz: The Research Memo That Almost Killed Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander

Twenty-five years ago, two dozen NBC executives gathered in a screening room in Burbank to watch a new sitcom pilot starring Jerry Seinfeld. Then called The Seinfeld Chronicles, it was a 23-minute mix of the comic's stand-up routines and idiosyncratic, conversational scenes dealing with such mundane topics as doing laundry, securing the top button of one's shirt, and deciphering the intent of a woman who was spending the night in Jerry's apartment.... read more

The Biz: Inside the ABC News Shakeup

Diane Sawyer

Transitions are always tricky in TV news. Executives want to find a way to reach younger audiences. But it's hard to replicate the audience loyalty built up by older, established anchors who became famous during an earlier era of television. So ABC News deserves credit for the crafty transition plan announced Wednesday for ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer. Here's what it means for... read more

The Biz: Inside the New Season of NY Med

Dr. Mehmet Oz

If you're in an emergency room and think you're about to die, maybe your last wish should be that Dr. Mehmet Oz passes through. It happens to a young man — writhing in agony after his aorta tears — on Thursday's season premiere of NY Med (June 26, 10/9c, ABC). Oz is back in action in the eight-part summer series from ABC News that takes viewers on an emotionally intense journey through New York-Presbyterian and other Manhattan-based hospitals. The show will also cross the Hudson River for a look inside University Hospital, which serves the rough streets of Newark, N.J. NY Med executive producer Terence Wrong offers some insights on what's coming up.

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The Biz: Analyzing Matt Lauer's Today Show Contract Renewal

Matt Lauer

NBC decided it's better for the Today show to be in second place with Matt Lauer than without him.

After surviving an ugly media pile on over the messy departure of Ann Curry from Today and the program's fall from first place, he's signed on to remain co-anchor for a few more years. The extension, which comes months before... read more

The Biz: Bill and Willie Geist Talk Family and Parenting in New Book

Bill Geist and Willie Geist

A household that included CBS Sunday Morning humorist Bill Geist and his son Willie, whose dry wit livens up MSNBC's Morning Joe and NBC's Today, had to be entertaining, right? "It was fun," Willie says. "But we didn't... read more

The Biz: Inside the U.K. Crime Wave

David Tennant and Olivia Colman

The British are coming and they're bringing the cops along.

The finale of the BBC's Happy Valley — a dark and at times brutally violent, six episode series that followed a single kidnapping case — scored 8 million viewers in the United Kingdom, a number U.S. network executives would envy. According to Soumya Sriraman, the BBC's executive vice president of home entertainment and licensing, talks are happening with several outlets about carrying the show in the U.S.

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The Biz: Television Takes Center Stage on CNN's The Sixties

John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon at the Nixon-Kennedy debate

If you were to put 1960s television on a psychiatrist's couch, it would be diagnosed as schizophrenic. Primetime was loaded with frothy, high-concept sitcoms, such as Gilligan's Island and I Dream of Jeannie, that became baby boomer favorites, while network news delivered grim images of the Vietnam War, social unrest, and assassinations.

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The Biz: American Masters Explores the Life of George Plimpton

George Plimpton

Author George Plimpton was making reality television long before anyone used the term.

Plimpton's exercises in participatory journalism led to the groundbreaking 1968 best seller Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback, which tells how he suited up with the Detroit Lions. It was a concept easily adapted to television. He did network TV specials in the late 1960s and 70s where he played triangle with the New York Philharmonic, performed as... read more

The Biz: Why Ad Rates Are Up While Ratings Go Down

Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Johnny Galecki

Every advertising selling season, broadcast-network executives must privately ask themselves the same question: "How much longer can we defy gravity?"

Through the first quarter of 2004, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox combined had a 48 percent share of viewers ages 18 to 49, the sweet spot for advertisers. In 2013, their share was down to 34 percent. The networks reportedly took in $9 billion in revenue during the 2004 upfronts. Last year, that total was closer to $8 billion — down, but not nearly commensurate with the decline in ratings. With the exception of... read more

The Biz: The True Story Behind Lifetime's Return to Zero

Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein

Television commercial director Sean Hanish had good reason to believe he was living the dream in July 2005. His career was on the rise as he had written, directed, and produced an ad campaign for supermodel Cindy Crawford's home furnishing line. At home, his wife was close to the due date for the birth of their first child. "The next time I see you you're going to be a daddy," Crawford told him after he presented the spots to her at her home.

"I felt pretty on top of the world that day," Hanish recalls. "And as I'm coming out of Cindy Crawford's driveway, my wife calls me." She gave him the devastating news that ... read more

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